Sabal palmetto

Sabal palmetto (Walter) Lodd. ex Schult. & Schult. F.

Common Names: Sabal Palm, Cabbage Palm, Swamp Cabbage

Habit: Sabal palmetto grows as an unbranched tree to 15 meters in height. The trunk is up to 70 centimeters wide typically with persistent petiole bases attached.  The leaves are arranged spirally and are costaplamate (petiole extends into the leaf blade).  The leaf blades are up to 2 m in length and are semi palmate, recurved both features are due to the extended petiole.

The complete, perfect, actinomorphic flowers are arranged in panicles up to 2 m in length. The calyx has 3 green partially fused sepals.  The corolla has 3 petals.  There are 6 stamens that have their filaments partially fused at their base.  The carpel has 3 locules each forming a lobe.  The fruit is a drupe that is black at maturity.

Habitat: Sabal palmetto grows in and around ephemeral Fresh Water Wetlands in areas that are sandy or with exposed limestone rock.

Distribution: Sabal palmetto occurs throughout the Lucayan Archipelago, the Caribbean, and in North America from Florida to North Carolina.

Medicinal/Cultural/Economic usageSabal palmetto is not known to be used medicinally in the Lucayan Archipelago.

It is used as thatch for making baskets, roofing as well as things like brooms. The palm was eaten by Native Americans either raw or dried and used like flour.  The fruits are also edible.  It is an indicator of fresh water.